Saturday, April 19, 2014

Transcendance:

Johhny Depp gets back to serious acting. So does everyone else. The acting in this is superb, and the cinematography is pretty damn good, too. This is a serious and pleasantly deep sci-fi flick set in current day. DEFINITELY keep your thinking cap on, because this is an exquisitely sophisticated plot that requires serious consideration and will leave you pondering some of the questions it poses well after. I consider this film a must-see, especially for technology buffs and Ray Kurzweill (?spelling) fans. I give it a 8.5 10, and it would've been higher yet if there weren't a few slight holes in the plot, and I do mean slight. (After further review, what I thought were plot holes must be intentional. Rating revised to 11/10)

**However, this film requires a much deeper and involved discussion than my usual brief review, and that requires spoilers. I strongly encourage you to see the film before reading below the dotted line.**

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Singularity. And I don't mean astrophysics, I mean sentient artificial intelligence beyond that of human beings. This is a powerful depiction of that potential with extraordinary vision. It also dives deep into the likely human reaction to that possibility, and at the bottom of  that dive is where the questions raised by this film will haunt you.

I'm not just discussing the philosophy surrounding singularity's possible outcomes here, I am more discussing the film's treatment of it, and the perceptoon left in the viewing audiences' minds after seeing this film. Some viewers will see this at its true depth, and many will only see the adrenaline-soaked surface reaction of the antagonists to singularity portrayed in the film.

Obviously it looks like ordinary people are being turned into mind-controlled and fully-networked "super humans," and the first assumption is that thwy have no free will. This is done by injecting nanites into the body. Given our conditioning from so many science fiction stories and films that are dark and forboding, or even severely dystopian or exrinction-level apocalyptic, this isn't surprising.

However, when I go back over the film in my mind, the only people who didn't explicitly consent to conversion were unconsious and on the verge of death. The nanites also repair any physical disability within a minute or two, and convey extreme physical strength.

Where I thought there was a plot hole is in the part where these nanites had spread over the entire surface of the Earth in rainwater. How were there any unconverted humans left to fight the AI nanite horde if it was so much like Star Trek's Borg? Resistance should be impossible if every drop of water on Earth was filled with nanites, because our bodies are 95% water. Every human on Earth should've been teeming with nanites. Hell, Johnny Depp could use any of the converted humans to speak and watch. It was clearly a collective consciousness.

The answer is clear upon reflection. The AI didn't kill a single human, not even the ones fighting it with violence. The Hive mind must be a collection of networked consciousnesses. When Johnny's character spoke through the super humans, it was because they LET him.

Answer: free will is still present. No one was uploaded to the cloud that didn't want to be. Even filled in every cell with nanites, the people fighting the AI weren't converted, because the AI originated from a decent human being with a deeply ethical character. The AI could have taken these people over at any point it wanted to...and created a peaceful paradise right after. Score one for my wife; human paranoia was the only reason there was a fight at all, and free will was very much alive in the machine. Cyber love is alive.

Expect a sequel. It's quite worth it.

And pass the popcorn.

Dan

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier...

..Amazing special effects. Decent plot with some good twists. Wonderful acting. You actually get the feel of Cap being from that lost "polite era."  One of the best Marvel flicks ever done. If you love comic books...er, graphic novels, you will really enjoy this. Be glad. Be very glad that Hollywood special effects are finally able to do justice to these stories. 9/10

Dan

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Classic Albums Live Plays Beatles' "Abbey Road" 100% Live, Note-For-Note...

...with the exact same instruments and equipment the Beatles used to record the album: This is NOT about personas, backdrops, sets, outfits, or fluff. This is about the music, and nothing but the music. This crew played the entire album, studio-quality, for their first set. Not. One. Mistake. Their second set was a wonderful mix of Beatles' ballads and pumped-up psychedelic rocker tunes that had the audience up for a full-on standing ovation. Their encore consisted of my personal Beatles favorite, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," AND "Twist And Shout." On the last song, the audience was dancing in the aisles. The warmth and richness of being able to hear every sound, combined with the studio-polished perfection was absolutely phenomenal. The only thing better for audio quality would've been being a fly on the wall in the studio for the last take as the Beatles recorded each song. 11/10, I shit you not. And only $45 bucks. My wife gets a total score for catching this one.

http://m.torontosun.com/2014/01/29/classic-albums-live-digs-deep-into-the-beatles-abbey-road

Dan

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Divergent:

I enjoyed it. It's a little Hunger Games-ish, a little Harry Potter-ish, a hint of Mad Max, and set in Chicago. A bit predictable, and some mixed messages. I felt an anti-science undercurrent, a lot of pro-militarism, but also an underlying "think for yourself" tone. The romance is sweet, the people pretty. Don't over-think it, just pass the popcorn and have fun. 7/10.

Dan

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Just Received Illegitimate Call With Spoofed Caller ID

630-275-0215 showing on caller ID.

Silence followed by beep, then female synthetic voice says "Good Bye," followed by disconnect

Calling the spoofed number gets Bell Sys recording saying "The number you have dialed is diaconnected. For directory assistance, you can call 411 or your service provider."  Female voice on Bell recording. No message trailer. Message goes to silence followed by short reorder / fast busy, then disconnect.

Some kind of scam.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Meltonian Shoe Cream Polish...

I LOVE this stuff! It is way easy to work with, moisturizesvthe leather, and shines up beautifully. It comes in a nice, wide range of colors, too.

I was checking with the gal at my local shoe shop, and she told me that wax polishes dry out the leather over time and make it crack. That is exactly what happened with my earlier pairs of Merrels. I am never using wax polish again.

10/10 - and I'll follow up in a few years with how my new pair are doing.

Dan

Friday, February 28, 2014

Endless Love:

Beautiful people, sweet romantic love story, great chemistry between leads. The story is classic formula that wouldn't be out of place in an Elvis film, but without the music. He's the classic misunderstood rough-hunk good guy Dad thinks is bad and beneath her, she is the penultimate beautiful Spring flower just blossoming, at the height of color and glory. This is a movie for those who want to feel that young love, not those who want an intellectual mind-exercise. Walk in with your eyes and heart, and let your mind idle and drift along for the ride, and you'll be fine. 7/10.

Skip the popcorn and take chocolates...and your lover.

Dan